Kerry aide in lockstep in Army, on the Hill

Though Sebastian Hazzard may have perfected the art of discipline as a member of the Army Reserve, he has also relied on that skill while working in Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) office.

The 27-year-old was recently promoted to press assistant, but he remembers a time as a staff assistant when it took all of his self-control to bite his tongue.

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“I was out front, working phones, and I remember one time, a rather irate gentleman called, and he was upset about the senator’s position — or something the senator said about the Iraq war,” says Hazzard, who was stationed in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. “He was essentially yelling at me, saying, ‘Well, if you had family over there, if you knew what was going on, you wouldn’t feel that way.’ ”

Hazzard decided it would be against his better judgment to bring up his own experience in Iraq and potentially get into an argument with the caller.

“I just remember saying, ‘I understand your position,’ and I just took a message,” he recounts.

Hazzard started in Kerry’s office in 1999 as a high school intern, but his education pursuits and Iraq deployment have interrupted his tenure over the years.

He joined the Army Reserve in 2001. Two years later, Hazzard was just a month into his second internship in the senator’s office and poised to begin his second semester at George Washington University when he was deployed to Iraq.

While there, his unit supported several other military groups stationed in the southern region of the country. He also spent time in Kuwait vetting third-country nationals looking to work on American military bases in Iraq.

Hazzard returned to the U.S. in 2004, just when his former boss was campaigning for the presidency.

“I met him while he was still campaigning in 2004, and he thanked me for my services, so that was good,” Hazzard says.

The Iraq war veteran relied on his discipline once again to get resettled. He resumed his full-time studies at George Washington and also returned to Kerry’s office full-time as the mailroom manager.

Of the hectic schedule, he says: “It was a necessity. I paid for GW out of pocket.”

Hazzard graduated from George Washington with a degree in criminal justice in May 2008 and is now adjusting to his new role in the senator’s communications office. Among his duties are gathering the press clips that mention the senator, maintaining the office’s press lists and helping organize news conferences.

Outside the office, Hazzard stays nearly as disciplined. He is still in the Reserves and was recently preparing for the Army Physical Fitness Test, which soldiers must take at least twice a year. The test measures the number of push-ups soldiers can do in two minutes, the number of sit-ups they can do in two minutes, and how fast they can run two miles.

Hazzard says he exercises a lot — “I’ll be fine; I’m not too worried about it” — but wouldn’t predict his results.

“I’m not going to go on record about that,” he says with a laugh.